What is the Okinawa Diet?

Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyu Islands situated off the coast of Japan between the East China & Philippine Seas. Okinawa belongs to one of 5 regions of the world called blue zones. People residing in blue zones live long and healthy compared to the world’s population. The lifespans enjoyed by Okinawans can be explained by many genetic, lifestyle factors, and environmental.

Experts believe that one strong influence is diet. Okinawa is one of the large islands in Japan. It is well-known as being one of the Blue Zones-a names for areas of the globe where people are considered healthy due to low rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity and the highest life expectancy rates.

Actually, Japan has the long-life expectancy of any country in the world. 90 for women and 84 for men. Okinawa has a large number of centenarians per 100,000 populations in the world, as per the Okinawa Research Center for Longevity Science (ORCLS).

They are studying centenarians for decades, so it is clear the region is doing something right-starting with their diet. This diet is being used by a lot of people and they are benefiting from it.

What is the Okinawa diet?

In the pure sense, the Okinawa diet refers to the usual eating patterns of the people who are living on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Their perfect diet, as well as lifestyle, are credited with giving them a few of the long lifespans on the planet.

what is the okinawa diet

The traditional Okinawa diet is lower in calories and fat while high in carbs. It emphasizes vegetables as well as soy products alongside occasional and small amounts of noodles, fish, rice, and pork.

In past years, the modernization of food production and dietary habits has led to a shift in the macronutrient content of the Okinawa diet. Though yet low-calorie and primarily carb-based, it now contains extra protein & fat.

The macronutrient breakdown of the Okinawa diet is outlined in this table:

Original Modern

Carbs 85% 58%

Protein 9% 15%

Fat 6%, including 2% saturated fat 28%, including 7% saturated fat

Furthermore, Okinawan culture treats food as medicine and uses several practices from traditional Chinese medicine.Chinese medicine



As such, the diet includes herbs as well as spices known to have health benefits like turmeric and mugwort Okinawan lifestyle emphasizes daily physical activity or mindful eating practices.

The health pros associated with the traditional Okinawan diet have given rise to a mainstream version intended for promoting weight loss. While it encourages the intake of nutrient-dense foods, this offshoot is influenced by the Western diet.

The 2nd main factor of the diet is the 80/20 rules. Rather, in Okinawa, people aim to eat unless they’re satiated but not entirely full. Think of it as eating dinner as well as saving room for dessert, but you do not consume the dessert then.

Foods to eat

Several of the benefits of the Okinawa diet can be attributed to its rich supply of whole, nutrient-dense, high-antioxidant foods. Important nutrients are essential for the appropriate function of your body, while antioxidants protect your body against cellular damage.

Unlike other Japanese, Okinawans consume very small rice. Instead, their main source of calories is the sweet potato, followed by legumes, whole grains, and fiber-rich vegetables.

The basic foods in a traditional Okinawan diet are given below:

Vegetables (58 to 60 percent): sweet potato (orange & purple), seaweed, daikon radish, kelp, Chinese okra, green papaya, bamboo shoots, bitter melon, cabbage, carrots, and pumpkin

Grains (33 percent): noodles, millet, wheat, and rice

Soy foods (5 percent): edamame, tofu, miso, and natto

Meat and seafood (1 to 2 percent): mostly white fish, seafood, as well as occasional pork all cuts, including organs

Meat and seafood


Other (1 percent): alcohol, dashi, tea, and spices

What is more, jasmine tea is consumed liberally on this diet, and antioxidant-rich spices such as turmeric are common.

Food to avoid

The usual Okinawa diet is restrictive compared to a normal Western diet. Because of Okinawa’s relative isolation as well as island geography, a vast variety of foods have not been accessible for much of its history. Thus, to follow this diet, you should restrict the following groups of foods.

Meats: beef, poultry, and processed products such as bacon, hot dogs, ham, sausage, salami, and other cured meats

Animal products: eggs and dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and butter

Processed foods: refined sugars, grains, processed cooking oils, snacks, and breakfast cereals

Legumes: most legumes, and other than soybeans


Other foods: most fruit, and nuts and seeds

Because the modern version of the Okinawa diet is based on calorie content, it permits more flexibility.

Some of the low-calorie foods such as fruit can be permitted, though most of the higher-calorie foods like dairy, nuts, and seeds are yet limited.

Benefits of the Okinawa Diet

The Okinawa diet is considered healthy and may be adopted by anyone. It includes eating whole, unprocessed foods and has a very high-water content thanks to the fresh produce. It is high in fiber or carbs and low in overall calories and fat-characteristics that, despite the rise in popularity for high-fat diets such as keto, can help in weight loss and weight maintenance.

weight loss

Okinawans eat approximately 1,200 calories/day while Americans consume closer to 2,000 calories. This eating strategy is renowned for low inflammation as well as staving off chronic diseases, although it has not been scientifically proven still.

Because the Okinawa diet is initially plant-based, it has a high amount of fruits or vegetables. The diet is high with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins, which all have been shown to lower inflammation.

The main draw of this eating style, however, is the perspective on food: Okinawans do not measure food or have restrictive rules. They do not overeat or have weight management issues by following the plant-based, 80 or/20 plan.


There are also some cons or disadvantages of this diet which should be considered before you use this diet. Some of the cons of this diet are given below:


This diet is low in red meat, poultry, and eggs. That is OK because you can yet get sufficient protein from soy or fish. But it has very some grains, even whole grains, and it is low in dairy products. You can get enough nutrition without those food groups, but it is hard to follow a diet that is so restrictive.

High in Sodium


If you are on a salt-restricted diet, speak to your doctor before adding in fewer of the sodium-rich foods on this diet, such as miso, salted fish, and soy sauce. It is possible that the abundance of fruits or vegetables high in potassium and calcium can counteract the sodium, but you should not risk it.


Thank you for reading this article and I hope you pulled out some workable information that you can use to make your life easier and more productive.

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Take care

Dr. Charles

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